Monday, September 2, 2013

A Partnership That Bears Dividends

Sunday evening (9/1) Father Brooks Keith and I co-officiated Jessica and John's wedding at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Friends of Jessica and John know that the first time they met was when Jessica came to interview for a job at the company John was working for. (She got the job, in case you were wondering. The rest, as the say, is history...) There is something really symbolic about this, because finding and then working a job is similar in many ways to finding your soul mate, and building a relationship.

We dress up really nicely, and we think about and plan what we will say. We try to impress, but not overdo it. We try to sell ourselves, but also see if we want to buy in. We emphasize our similarities.

A few days later we call back or wait for a call back to see if we can move this forward. Hopefully, we get the job, and the real work begins.

We tread lightly at the beginning, and we don't really let our guard down. We don't let our freak fly yet, rather we once again emphasize how well suited and similar we are to others. We are highly interested in making sure we are seen as similar to whatever ideal employee we think the boss is looking for us to be.

Now, unfortunately, in many companies you never really advance beyond that stage. Anyone who studies the sociology of management will quickly see that many companies don't really know how to advance beyond that stage. A Kabuki dance of conformity and similarity, where everyone just plays their part is just so much easier. Usually, this can bring fair to mediocre results, which many managers, being risk averse, are very comfortable with.

Fortunately, there are smarter workplaces out there. They have no use for conformity; they seek difference. They have no time for games; they are serious about getting the unique contributions each person can bring the table. They seek not the bland peace of mediocrity, but the fruitful tension of meeting new challenges and excelling through them.

Once again, this is like a mirror image of romantic relationships, and where they can go. What is a date if not a softer version of an interview? Does not the beginning of every romantic relationship involve some serious sales skills, just like a job interview? Do we not seek, at the beginning, to see how similar we are?

Once again, some relationships, like many jobs, never really deepen beyond that stage. However, those that do, watch out! In those that do, we relish in the difference that the other person brings to the relationship. This is why Jessica says, "John makes me think about things in a different way." And we don't just passively wait for such differences to manifest; we seek them out. That is why John says, "I love the way that Jessica challenges me." We realize that true growth comes not from trying to tone this down, rather from relishing it, and harnessing our differences to make our partnership greater and more successful.

Jessica and John, continue to embrace your differences, let your freak fly, and together build a successful romantic partnership that bears dividends for many years to come.

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